Monday, 22 January 2018

Going Back

Sitting on a commuter train from London Bridge last Autumn on my way to visit family, I was musing about how sometimes I find myself coming full circle. It might be a book I am re-reading and find it is set in a place I know well now but which was completely unknown to me originally, or as in this case, a place where I once lived, which was familiar to me on an everyday basis but which I have long left behind.

As we passed through the familiar stations, I was transported back through the years to a younger version of myself. A girl new to London who regularly travelled on this commuter line in another life. A life I rarely even think about now as the present is so all-consuming.


The next day, I was curious to revisit the life I had so many years ago, to bridge the gap between the girl I was then, and the woman I am today. I would never wish to revisit my early twenties, sometimes a painful and disconnected time of life, when family and childhood are left behind and the life you will build for yourself is still in the future, but still it was interesting to be back in the place where I made that transition and reflect on that transient and unsettled time.


Autumn Trees in Dulwich Village
So I took the train back to Dulwich and walked into the pretty village, much more vibrant and fashionable than the sleepy village I knew then, but still a lovely place to spend time with its beautiful, spacious houses and wide tree-lined streets.

One of the prettiest houses in Dulwich Village
I stopped off at Gail’s Bakery, sitting outside in the sunshine and watching the world go by, sipping a cappuccino and eating a delicious fruit scone, amused by the woman telling her daughter that they didn’t have almond milk, only soya!


Later I walked into the Park, admiring the trees and remembering other times I walked here long ago, then I wandered into the stunning Picture Gallery with it’s permanent collection which includes my favourite Rembrandt, 'Girl at a Window'. I had a the poster pinned to the walls of my flat in London for years till it fell apart.  I bought another print to frame and keep as a memento, a link.



Walking back through the village, I passed the newly refurbished Crown and Greyhound pub, once my local and always known as ‘The Dog’, almost unrecognisable now as the scene of so many informal social gatherings, including my first date with my first husband.


Lots of water under the bridge, many ephemeral relationships that have vanished into the ether, but what endures for me is solid and strong and it was good to be back in that place and to be the woman I am now.

Do you sometimes find yourself drawn back unexpectedly into your past, turning full circle?


I wrote this post back in the autumn, hence the autumn trees, but wasn't able to post it due to technical problems.

10 comments:

  1. Sometimes I find it hard to identify with my young self and memories seem quite unreal. But I have a constant connection with some aspects of my past as my mother still lives in the house I grew up in and I regularly visit her. Both my husband and I in the last couple of years were looked-up by friends from years ago and it has been a journey to get to know them as they are today.

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    1. The past really is another country, Jenny and we change so much as we go through life. Nice to meet with old friends though

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  2. It was so nice to see your blog on my dashboard, Marianne. What a lovely place you come from.

    My brother made the trip home again a few years ago and although, much has changed, much remained the same. It had been over 50 years and the house that my grandfather built and we lived in was still there. He took pictures and I was so happy to see the house has weathered the years well. We moved when I was 12, but part of me still thinks of it as home because that is where the precious memories of childhood were made. I am a very sentimental person.

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    1. It’s been too long and almost too hard to pick up again but sometimes I just want to write it down. I didn’t grow up in Dulwich but lived in the area most of my 20s, an impressionable time with a lot going on.

      How lovely to see pictures of your childhood home with all the memories that invokes! Thank you for visiting,

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  3. Familiar territory indeed. I might have passed you! I find it hard even to cast my mind back to the self I was when the boys were at school in the area, let alone to my pre-motherhood self. I tried to do it on a visit to Bristol but didn't really spark any real memories. Sometimes even the blog that goes back ten years now seems to record a distant life. Good to see you back though. I had to check who you were!

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    1. So, you know it well, too, Lucille. Such a lovely village, and one of my favourite places in London. We all live so much in the present, and it's only when I find myself going back somewhere after a long time that the memories are triggered. Do you go back 10 years too? I keep thinking of letting it go, but sometimes I just want to write it down. If someone else reads it too, that's a bonus.

      I have decided to let my non de plume go as I will eventually link my new instagram account to my blog, one I have edited it.

      Lovely to hear from you again and will look out for you in Dulwich, and East Sussex, which is another favourite haunt.

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  4. The saying is "you can't go home again" but I believe you can as a different person. Lovely photos!

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    1. They do say you should never go back, but you can revisit! Thank you, Barb and thank you for dropping by.

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  5. I agree. I have mixed views on revisiting. Went back to a place where I'd lived during my youth and it was so sad and run down, having been a cosy working class community then. But, recently I went to a place where I was very happy in my late teens and early 20s, and I was pleased to realise that there was a wonderful Victorian church there that I had never thought to visit when I actually lived there. It was a real treat to look around. I'd never have found it if I hadn't taken that trip down memory lane.

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    1. Glad you had a positive experience on your trip down memory lane that second time. I just find it strange how life can bring you back to a place you knew well and bring you face to face with another version of yourself. Interesting too. Thanks for coming by, Jenny.

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